This week belongs to Pokémon, sorry everybody else. I mean, there’s still some other interesting games coming out, and some counter programming with Call of Duty: Warzone, but let’s be real, the only thing most of us will be playing and hearing about is those damn pocket monsters. Has it been raining in your area? It’s been raining a lot where I’m at, I don’t mind though, rain falls on everyone. The same old rain, and I’m just trying to walk with you between the raindrops.
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet (Switch) – Releases Nov. 18th
Developed by: Game Freak
Published by: Nintendo
It just wouldn’t be November without a Pokémon release. In this latest entry, players will explore the region of Paldea, loosely based on the Iberian Peninsula, which encompasses most of Spain and Portugal. Like Arceus, Scarlett and Violet is set on a massive, open world map, with players able to freely explore it in any order they like. Aside from choosing from one of three starter Pokémon, Springatito, Fuecoco, and Quaxly, players will also choose from one of three routes to follow, each with their own unique storyline (so have fun beating the game three times).
Pentiment (PC/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Nov. 15th
Developed by: Obsidian Entertainment
Published by: Xbox Game Studios
From renowned developer Obsidian Entertainment, Pentiment is narrative driven RPG in which players hunt for a murderer in order to clear the name of their close friend. Set over a period of 25 years, the game does not actually have a “true” murderer, with players deciding, after their investigation is complete, who they believe the murderer to be; interesting.
RWBY: Arrowfell (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Nov. 15th
Developed by: WayForward
Published by: WayForward/Arc System Works
This is definitely a great time to be a fan of Rooster Teeth!
Somerville (PC/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Nov. 15th
Developed by: Jumpship
Published by: Jumpship
After co-founding the studio Playdead and executive producing their two games Limbo and Inside, Dino Patti left the company and founded a new indie studio, Jumpship. Their first game, Somerville, is similar to both of those titles; no narration or dialogue, no on screen HUD, minimalist design aesthetics, and using the environment & animations to tell the story of what is going on. However, Patti is quick to point out that Somerville is not a puzzle platformer like his previous two games. In fact, he says that the gameplay in Somerville is so new that he can’t even come up with the words to describe it, you just have to play it for yourself. Okay.
Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0 (Android/iOS/PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Nov. 16th
Developed by: Infinity Ward/Raven Software
Published by: Activision
Bro, there’s a new version of Warzone coming out, isn’t that sick? Fuck yeah we’re gonna play it, then smoke some blunts and watch Boondock Saints. What’s that? Bro, nobody wants to watch Midsommar, stop asking.
Goat Simulator 3 (PC – Epic Store Exclusive/PS5/Series X|S) – Releases Nov. 17th
Developed by: Coffee Stain North
Published by: Coffee Stain Publishing
Jesus H. Christ.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Nov. 18th
Developed by: Supermassive Games
Published by: Bandai Namco
The Dark Pictures Anthology keeps inexplicably chugging along, releasing its fourth title called The Devil In Me. In this chilling tale, the crew of a true crime docuseries is invited to a newly built replica of the “Murder Castle”, home to an infamous serial killer named H.H. Holmes. As they shoot footage for their latest episode they start to realize that they’ve fallen victim to a sadistic mad man who has grisly plans for them.
Ports and Re-releases:
Resident Evil 3 Remake (Switch – Cloud Version) – Releases Nov. 18th
Did you already beat Resident Evil 2 Remake (Cloud Version)? I hope you did, because now Resident Evil 3 Remake (Cloud Version) is coming to Switch.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales (PC) – Releases Nov. 18th
Sony keeps putting their titles on PC, questioning the need for their home consoles.
Ys 8: Lacrimosa of Dana (PS5) – Releases Nov. 18th
One of the better JRPGs of the last five years, Ys VIII is now coming to PS5 with, I guess, better graphics and load times. I mean, if you already own this then I can’t imagine there’s any reason to pick it up on PS5, but if you’ve never played it and you want the best looking version, well, go and grab this immediately.
Once again we have a TON of smaller titles coming out this week, including the sequel to the very popular Bendy and the Ink Machine.
- Ballads of Hongye (PC) – Releases Nov. 15th
- Bendy and the Dark Revival (PC) – Releases Nov. 15th
- Bound By Blades (PC) – Releases Nov. 15th
- Bravery and Greed (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Nov. 15th
- Floodland (PC) – Releases Nov. 15th
- Smurfs Kart (Switch) – Releases Nov. 15th
- Cardfight!! Vanguard Dear Days (PC/Switch) – Releases Nov. 16th
- Gunfire Reborn (PC/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Nov. 17th
- My Fantastic Ranch (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Nov. 17th
- Oakenfold (PC) – Releases Nov. 17th
- Starsand (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Nov. 17th
Notable Releases from 10, 20, and 30 years ago:
Wii U – Released Nov. 18th, 2012: Wiki Link
Notable Film Release: Silver Linings Playbook – Starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, and Chris Tucker
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: Rihanna – Unapologetic
*Click here to watch a live performance of “Diamonds” on SNL*
Despite the massive success of the Wii, Nintendo could see limitations with the console. Aside from being graphically and technologically inferior to the PS3 and Xbox 360, the Wii was also seen as a console for casual gamers who didn’t spend a lot of money on new software, unlike the more hardcore gamer audience that Sony and Microsoft were courting. To fix this shortcoming, Nintendo vowed to make their next console one that would appeal not just to casual fans, but also the hardcore, naming it Wii U, as in “We” for everyone and “You” for that singular, hardcore player. Not wanting to abandon the motion controls that made the Wii so popular, the Wii U still had games that were Wiimote centric, but a dedicated, standard controller was also made available so that players could enjoy more traditional types of video games. However, the main centerpiece of the Wii U was its tablet controller, the game pad.
While the controller looked bulky, the ergonomics on it were stellar, fitting nicely into player’s hands. This second screen allowed developers to cut down on the amount of on-screen text and displays, moving various functions and gameplay elements to the controller. The touch screen capabilities also proved to be a welcome design choice by developers, allowing players to easily swap items, navigate menus, arrange their inventory, pull off special attacks, etc. This touch screen also allowed developers to use it as an extension of motion controls, having players swipe across the screen to launch projectiles or throw balls, and the built in gyroscope also allowed you to hold the tablet up to the screen and have it act as an aiming reticle, pilot an aircraft, drive a car, and on and on.
In hindsight, the most notable thing about the Wii U game pad was that it allowed players to play most games, not all, but most, on the tablet itself, leaving others in the room to use the television for other things. Obviously this was a major inspiration for the Switch itself, it’s cool to see the genesis of this idea sprout from the ashes of the D.O.A. Wii U. Yes, folks, while the Wii was one of the best selling consoles of all time, the Wii U was a massive flop. It seems that after spending over half a decade catering to the casual crowd, the hardcore gamer had moved on with other gaming consoles. However, the same casual crowd that drove sales of the Wii also couldn’t be bothered to buy a Wii U, mainly for two reasons. One was that they had also moved on to other types of gaming devices, such as their tablets and smartphones, the second was that Nintendo did a poor job of marketing the console as a new device. It seems many in the casual crowd thought that Wii U was JUST a tablet that hooked up to their existing Wii so the $300-$350 price tag was too much for them. This misconception was famously noted on a notorious Late Night With Jimmy Fallon segment where Jimmy wrongly stated that it was a new peripheral for the existing Wii console, or maybe it wasn’t, he wasn’t sure. Neither was most of the world. *NOTE* the clip above is from 2013 where Jimmy makes sure to fully explain that it is a new CONSOLE.
The casual/hardcore branding of the console showed a lack of clear vision on just what the Wii U was, something also seen in it’s massive, MASSIVE, launch library. There were so many games released, all from different genres and for different types of players. This was, sadly, the state of the Wii U as a whole, full of great ideas but without a clear focus. Again, Nintendo made the best games for the system, hands down, and for those that picked up a Wii U, they found themselves getting access to a slew of fantastic games over the course of its roughly four year life span (the console was discontinued in January 2017), titles like Nintendo Land, Mario Kart 8, Game & Wario, Splatoon, Super Smash Bros. For Wii U, Pikmin 3, NES Remix, Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, and HD remasters of Twilight Princess and Windwaker, just to name a few. The console was backwards compatible with all Wii games, making it a decent upgrade if you were one of the people who actually knew the Wii U was a new console however, when it came to digital purchases, players found that they could only access their library if they migrated their Wii data to the Wii U. If they wanted to take advantage of the Wii U’s features, though, they would have to re-purchase those same games at a discounted price.
Let’s move on to the launch titles, 35 in total! If you’re wondering, yes, I did play through (almost) all of these (my copy of Nintendo Land had a deep gash in the disc), and I felt like passing out from delirium; nobody should play (almost) 35 video games in a week.
The Major Exclusives: New Super Mario Bros. U, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, Nintendo Land, Tank! Tank! Tank!, and Zombi U
The strongest launch titles on a Nintendo console are typically the ones made by the company itself. However, their contributions were a bit lacking, in my opinion. First we have New Super Mario Bros. U which is basically an HD version of the Wii game, not really that exciting. Their second game, Nintendo Land, is a ton of fun and really showcases the game pad in fun and novel ways. However, the game quickly grows stale and you find yourself wanting more gameplay than it has to offer.
There were three notable third party exclusives for the Wii U at launch as well. Namco’s Tank! Tank! Tank! is a port of the 2009 arcade game and features gameplay similar to the Earth Defense Force series, with players controlling tanks as they fight giant robotic monsters invading the Earth. Koei Tecmo partnered with Nintendo to develop and publish Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, a fairly big “get” for Nintendo, really showing their commitment to the hardcore gamer. This was a short lived exclusivity, though, as the game would appear on PS3 and 360 six months later. The last major exclusive came from Ubisoft with the survival horror game Zombi U, a really unique game that contained an interesting permadeath system that let you kill the zombie version of your previous character. Sales of Zombi U were abysmal and caused Ubisoft to axe plans to make Rayman Legends a Wii U exclusive, opting to also release the title on other consoles. Zombi U would also eventually hit other consoles, as well as PC, in 2015, dropping the “U” and being called just Zombi.
We’re a Console For Hardcore Gamers Too!: Assassin’s Creed III, Batman: Arkham City – Armored Edition, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Darksiders II, Epic Mickey 2, Mass Effect 3: Special Edition, and Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper
Of course, with the Wii U sporting similar specs to the PS3 and Xbox 360, they could finally get some of the same third party titles that those consoles were getting, once again making Nintendo a viable third option for players, a feat that hadn’t been seen since the days of the GameCube. We can start off with Ubisoft, who were all in on the Wii U from the get go, releasing their latest Assassin’s Creed game on the console, just a couple weeks after it had already hit PS3 and 360. Continuing their support, Koei Tecmo released Warriors Orochi 3, one of their musou titles released in early 2012.
Two games were released close to, or on the same day, as their PS3 and 360 versions. The first is Call of Duty: Black Ops II, released just five days after other consoles. The popular first person shooter game that proved Nintendo was ready to run with the big dogs when it came to online play (sort of). The second was Disney Interactive’s Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, released the same day on all platforms, including a 3DS version called Power of Illusion. Interestingly, Epic Mickey 2 was a complete Nintendo exclusive in Japan, while it received PS3 and 360 versions in the West. The game isn’t that great, however, suffering from dull gameplay. At least the camera is better.
Rounding out our “hardcore” games are a trio of titles that were all fairly old by the time the Wii U arrived. The oldest of these was Batman: Arkham City – Armored Edition. Originally releasing in Oct. 2011, Arkham City was a very nice and welcome surprise on the Wii U, with the developers using the game pad effectively. Next was Mass Effect 3: Special Edition from Mar. 2012, the only Mass Effect game to appear on a Nintendo console to date. It contained the full game as well as the From Ashes DLC. Players could also read through the updated Genesis 2 interactive comic book which detailed plot points from the first two games, allowing players to make the choices that would eventually affect things in the ME3 plot. Last we have THQ’s Darksiders II, originally released in Aug. 2012. I spent a good amount of time playing this game over the weekend just having a freaking blast with it, kind of bummed I never gave this series a chance before, it’s really a lot of fun.
We’re Also a Console For Casual Gamers, though: ESPN Sports Connection, Game Party Champions, Just Dance 4, Rabbids Land, Sing Party, Wipeout 3, and Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013
On the flip side of the coin, Nintendo and its third party partners were still riding high on the support that casual gamers had shown them during the Wii era, so of course the Wii U had a slew of games made just for these players. Let’s start, once again, with Ubisoft’s output, because it was massive in this category, with four titles! First up is ESPN Sports Connection, a Wii Sports rip off that isn’t nearly as fun to play as Nintendo’s masterpiece. Next we have Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013, the fifth entry in the workout franchise (which totally kicked my ass when I played it, yikes). Up third Just Dance 4, the sleepover staple that had recently released on the PS3, 360, and Wii about a month earlier. Finally, we had Rabbids Land, a Mario Party style game that had the titular rabbids running around a game board, competing in mini games. It’s not nearly as fleshed out or fun as any of the Mario Party games, and it made me wish they had just done a straight Rabbids title with only mini games; oh well.
Next we have a couple of other party/dexterity games for everyone in the old folks home. First let’s talk about Wipeout 3, a kind of odd game in that it doesn’t appear to use motion controls at all, not even on the game pad. Instead, it’s basically a platform game on rails. Players move their character along a typical Wipeout course, (a kinda/sorta popular game show, think American Ninja Warrior, but goofy), as they dodge various obstacles by jumping over or sliding under them. It’s an okay game, but if I got this for a party I would have been pretty bummed about it not using motion controls. The other game we have is Warner Bros. Interactive’s Game Party Champions, an abysmally AWFUL game that I do not recommend any ever play, EVER! It was so bad that it made my 7-year-old daughter cry; fuck Game Party Champions.
The last casual game I want to talk about is actually, to my surprise, a Nintendo co-developed and published title, Sing Party. Made by Nintendo SPD and the Activision subsidiary FreeStyleGames (makers of DJ Hero), Sing Party essentially turns your Wii U into a karaoke machine. Using any USB mic, players can sing a song from a curated list of 50 songs, from the top 40 hits of 2010-2012, to some of the biggest songs from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s. The use of the game pad here is some of the best I saw over all of the launch titles, just due to the sheer functionality of it. While someone sings their song, maybe Lionel Richie’s “Dancing on the Ceiling”, other players can queue up the next song on the game pad, making sure the party doesn’t stop. I really loved Sing Party and am kind of bummed that they didn’t follow through on the promised DLC. Honestly, one of the biggest highlights of the entire launch library, what a gem.
Actually, we’re a console for the kids: Ben 10: Omniverse, Scribblenauts Unlimited, Skylanders: Giants, and Transformers: Prime – The Game
We can’t forget that Nintendo also has a reputation for being the “kid” console, you know, like, it’s totally for BABIES, duh. Anyway, of course children will want the new Nintendo console, they want anything new, they’re kids, so why not have a few titles available for parents to blindly buy for little Billy and Sandy. As you might imagine, a couple of these are awful. The worst offender is Ben 10: Omniverse from D3 Publisher, a game that I had such a freaking hard time finding, eventually grabbing it from a local retro store for some ungodly amount of money; what a waste. Aside from Wii U, the game also appeared on every other major console, disappointing children around the world. The other terrible game was Activision’s Transformers: Prime – The Game. This third person action game was a Nintendo console exclusive, appearing on the Wii, Wii U, DS, and 3DS. Based on the animated series of the same name, players move around various stages, taking control of a slew of different Autobots. It’s better than Ben 10, but only just so.
These next two titles were games that parents hopefully bought for their kids instead. First we have Warner Bros. Interactive’s Scribblenauts Unlimited, the fourth game in the series and the first on a home console (as well as PC). In this delightful game, players traverse funky environments helping out various NPCs with their tasks. The kicker is that players can enter in keywords to create a solution. For example, if someone needs a fire put out, you can type in “bucket of water” on the game pad, causing the item to appear, dragging it over to the fire using the stylus and completing the task. You can also change the adjectives on a person or object. For example, a kid in school is scared to walk past a bully, well then change his adjectives from “scared student” to “brave student” and he’ll suddenly have the courage to stand up for himself. It’s a great game and is currently available on modern consoles.
The last kids game we have is Skylanders: Giants, the sequel to Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. Created during the height of the “toys to life” craze, Giants big new feature, no pun intended, was the massive figures you could now collect, using them to smash large objects and hurl boulders around. The starter set came with three figures, Tree Rex, Cynder, and Jet-Vac, with other figures available for purchase, allowing you to access various parts of levels that your starter figures couldn’t. There’s not really much that’s special about Skylanders: Giants, aside from it just being really fun to play. If you’re a fan of 3D platformers, collecting figures, and Saturday morning cartoons, then Skylanders: Giants hits all the right buttons.
We’re Also a Console for Sports! (and fighting): FIFA 13, Madden NFL 13, NBA 2K13, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, and Tekken Tag Tournament 2
Normally I’m not too excited about sports titles. They are what they are and you either like them or you don’t. Honestly, from my perspective, every gamer should have AT LEAST one of each type of sport in their library, and the Wii U versions aren’t bad ones to have. Both of EA’s entries, Madden NFL 13 and FIFA 13 use the game pad very effectively, with Madden getting a bit more practical use with it than FIFA. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a Wii U copy of NBA 2K13, but it’s basketball, you either want to play it or you don’t. What really makes these titles special is that they are, arguably, the first “real” sports titles on a Nintendo system since the GameCube era. Of course EA would eventually stop supporting the Wii U, as would 2K, but just to have these on a Nintendo machine was pretty neat.
The other two sports titles are less traditional, as well as being the two that more “hardcore” gamers would be apt to buy. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is your standard kart style racing game, featuring characters from the Sonic franchise as well as notable characters from other Sega franchises including Space Channel 5, Super Monkey Ball and even Total War. Critics were very impressed with the game, calling it better than its predecessor and worth picking up at launch; I agree. The other “sports” game to come out was in the fighting genre, Tekken Tag Tournament 2. The game was also released on PS3 and 360, but the Wii U version contains various features not found in the others. There is a mode where power-ups from the Super Mario series appear, such as regular and poison mushrooms, the Tekken Ball mode from Tekken 3 returns, there is a mode where you can use the game pad to perform special moves, and there are exclusive costumes based on Nintendo properties. Further, all of the DLC from the PS3 & 360 versions are included on-disc for the Wii U version, which includes characters, costumes, and stages. If you ever come across this title in the wild, pick it up, pronto.
Hey, We’re a Console That Knows Digital Games Are the Future: Chasing Aurora, Funky Barn, Little Inferno, Mighty Switch Force!: Hyper Drive Edition, Nano Assault Neo, and Trine 2: Director’s Cut
It took some time but, with the launch of the Wii U, Nintendo finally got on board with digital distribution. Not only did they have smaller, indie titles for purchase, but also digital versions of many of the retail games. Now, the Wii U has a notoriously small internal hard drive, with the largest being 32 GB and the smallest a laughable 8 GB; you could solve this issue in couple of ways. One way would be to get a 32 GB SD card or, you purchase an external USB hard drive which could be up to 2 TB. In the current age of the Wii U, with the eShop closing down, having an external hard drive is 100% necessary if you plan on purchasing a multitude of titles that will soon be console locked.
Alright, so let’s talk quickly about these digital games. Including retail games, a total of 23 titles were available digitally from the Nintendo eShop at launch. Of these 23, five were only available digitally; side note, I am including Funky Barn here because of its indie-ish status, even though it was initially only available physically at launch, bear with me. Of these releases, Trine 2 is probably the best as it is a solid platformer that is easy to pick up but hard to master. Nintendo made strong efforts to court developer Frozenbyte to bring Trine 2 to Wii U and is noted for being the start of Nintendo’s push towards being more indie developer friendly.
Another indie company that had a good relationship with Nintendo was Tomorrow Corporation, a new studio made up of people who had left other indie studios. Their title Little Inferno is a wonderfully simple, yet incredibly deep, sandbox game in which players burn objects in their fireplace. The goal is to solve riddles by burning various objects together and, over the course of the game, learn more about the dystopian world that the characters inhabit. Another indie title to come out was Chasing Aurora, a racing game featuring birds. This game is completely exclusive to the Wii U, not appearing on any other platform, but it’s just “okay”. The developer has since gone on to make a few other well known indies, including 2022’s Gibbon: Beyond The Trees.
These next two digital titles are 3DS ports, upscaled to HD. First is Mighty Switch Force!: Hyper Drive Edition which contains the full 3DS game in HD, as well as having brand new levels and modes. This is a platforming puzzle game where players must arrest escaped criminals but, in order to reach the criminals, players must use a special ability that allows them to turn various platforms and objects on & off. Early levels are fairly easy to get through, teaching you the basics, but the game gets very difficult, very quickly. Funky Barn is, well, kind of funky, heh. This is a farming simulation game, with players raising animals and selling them off for money, allowing them to purchase new buildings, equipment, and animals. This game is, hmmm, not that good. I mean, it’s not terrible or anything, it just isn’t a lot of fun, and the graphics are sub par; your money is better spent elsewhere.
The last digital title is Nano Assault Neo, a fast paced, shoot em’ up game. This is the sequel to a 3DS game, just called Nano Assault, and tasks players with eradicating a deadly virus. To do this, players are shrunk down, maybe, and must pilot a small ship, navigating a cell that is being attacked by the virus, shooting them. While the game looks great and plays really well, there’s not a whole lot to do. Once you’ve played through a couple of levels you will have seen all that the game has to offer, it’s just a mindless shooting fest, nothing really special.
Well folks, that was the Wii U; what did you think? I was a late adopter of the console, picking it up in 2014 when Mario Kart 8 launched, but I instantly fell in love. Having the ability to play games on the game pad was an incredible idea and made the Wii U almost a handheld console, if you wanted to drag your entire console with you and have easy access to a power outlet. This was, of course, impractical, but the germ of the idea was there and Nintendo capitalized on it big time with their next console, the Switch. The Wii U was a disjointed mess at launch and likely contributed to its poor install base, plus it had a feeling of “Johnny come lately” with titles that had already been available on PS3 and 360 for several months. However, as time went on the console started to find its footing and put out some really great games, just nobody played them. In total, the Wii U sold around 13 million units, the worst selling Nintendo home console of all time, only beating the Virtual Boy in terms of worst selling Nintendo systems of all time. Though the Wii U failed, its ideas helped make the Switch one of the best selling Nintendo consoles of all time, with many of the Wii U games eventually making their way to that console. You can never really count Nintendo out, even when it looks like they’re going to fail, because good ideas will eventually win out.
Metroid Prime (GameCube) – Released Nov. 18th, 2002: Wiki Link
Metroid Fusion (GBA) – Released Nov. 18th, 2002: Wiki Link
Notable Film Release: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Kenneth Branagh, Robbie Coltrane, Richard Harris, Alan Rickman, and Maggie Smith
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: Audioslave – Audioslave
*Click here to listen to the album*
20 years ago, Nintendo took a big gamble with the Metroid franchise; moving the historically 2D platformer into not just the 3D realm, but as a first person shooter. However, to make up for this potential catastrophe, Nintendo ALSO released a traditional 2D Metroid game to please any fans that may have felt slighted. How did each of them do? Where they any good? I’m sure you already know the answer to both.
In 1998 things took a weird turn for Jeff Spangenberg. The company that he had founded in 1991, Iguana Entertainment, had unceremoniously fired him, just three years after it had been purchased by the publisher Acclaim. Down, but not out, Spangenberg used leftover funds from his Iguana days to form a new company, Retro Studios, and entered into a partnership with Nintendo to produce mature themed games for the GameCube (not necessarily M rated games, just games that were for an older audience). Retro came up with four game ideas and began prototyping them; a first person action/adventure game called MetaForce, a vehicular combat game called Thunder Rally, a U.S. football game, and and RPG, Raven Blade. The company started out small, with 4 employees, before ballooning to over 200. In 2000, Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto traveled to Austin where Retro was based to check in on their progress. He didn’t like what he saw, well, most of it.
The four prototypes that Miyamoto saw failed to impress him, prompting some worry on both sides about the partnership. However, as he watched the demo for MetaForce play out he started to become intrigued and suggested that Retro turn it into a new Metroid title. Nintendo had, for several years, tried to figure out a way to get Metroid onto the N64. However, all of the teams that would start work would eventually run into major hurdles about how to translate the 2D franchise into the 3D realm. They came close, at one point, with an unnamed third party developer but it was swiftly rejected as the team felt they could not put out a game that could stand up against Super Metroid. Feeling the pressure, Retro quickly pivoted all of the MetaForce assets to this new Metroid title and, in the coming months, would cancel all three of their other projects in order for the entire company to work on Metroid.
Initially, while MetaForce had been an FPS game, Retro and Nintendo decided to make this new title, called Metroid Prime, into a third person action/adventure game, a la Tomb Raider. It started to become apparent, though, that this perspective just didn’t work with the type of game that Retro and Nintendo wanted to make, so the decision was made to move back into the FPS realm. However, just because Metroid Prime had a first person perspective, the team didn’t want to make just another FPS game. They still wanted the game to retain that Metroid feeling of isolation, solo exploration of a hostile environment, and not have it be a run & gun splatterfest like Doom or Halo. As far as the difficulty, Retro wanted to make sure that the exploration was relatively easy and fun, making things like platform jumping and figuring out which items to use to reach out of the way places the real challenge of the game, with the shooting only being used when absolutely necessary. They did, however, want to make sure that the boss fights were challenging, calling them the hardest parts of the game for players to get through. This, again, plays up the isolation & dread aspects of Metroid, because as soon as you begin to feel comfortable, something terrible is just through the next door, and you have no idea.
Initial reception to a first person Metroid game was met with skepticism by critics and fans, however, once Metroid Prime released it garnered universal praise. Magazine EGM gave the game a perfect score in its review, and Metroid Prime would go on to be named “Game of the Year” by several outlets, beating out presumed favorite Grant Theft Auto: Vice City. At the DICE awards, Metroid Prime led the pack with ten nominations, including Game of the Year, though it would only win one, “Console FPS Action Game of the Year”. Two direct sequels would arrive over the next few years, as well as three spin-off titles on handheld devices. In 2017, Nintendo announced that Metroid Prime 4 was in development, however its been a bit troubled, causing delays and a change in teams, leaving Bandai Namco and heading back to Retro. The easiest way to play the game today is by purchasing the digital version of the Metroid Prime Trilogy on the Wii U while the eShop is still open, however I wouldn’t be surprised if Nintendo had a Switch version in the pipeline (I can dream at least).
It was a gamble to bring Metroid into the 3D realm and change its play style, with no guarantees it would be a success. To help combat this, Nintendo also developed a traditional 2D Metroid game, calling it Metroid Fusion. This title was developed by Nintendo itself, from the R&D1 team who had also worked on Super Metroid. When the game was first announced, Nintendo stated that this would not be a port of an older Metroid title, but a brand new game, one that would continue the story of Samus, unlike Metroid Prime which took place in the timeframe between Metroid and Metroid II.
In Metroid Fusion, the game begins with an opening cutscene with Samus exploring the surface of planet SR338 with scientists from Biologic Space Laboratories. Suddenly, Samus is attacked by hostile parasites referred to as “X”. These X parasites infect her entire central nervous system and fuse portions of her power suit to her body. The BSL scientists rush her back to their space station and are able to cure her with a vaccine made from the cells of the baby metroid she finds at the end of Metroid II. There are side effects, however, as Samus can now regain her health by absorbing X parasites but is very susceptible to cold, due to the metroid cells in her body. As she regain consciousness, Samus learns that the BSL space station has been taken over by X parasites and it is up to her to eradicate them.
Nintendo wanted Metroid Fusion to have a more “cinematic” feel, even going so far as to direct the team to hire “Hollywood” actors to voice all of the cut scenes. However, the low storage capacity of the GBA cartridges prevented this from becoming a reality, with the only voices being those of the warning announcements. While this was the same team that made Super Metroid, they didn’t want to just rehash ideas form that game, instead they wanted to add in new ways to play in order to challenge themselves and make the game fresh and exciting. Among these additions were the ice and diffusion missiles, Samus having the ability to climb walls and the ceiling, and opting for a more “mission based” structure that makes it easier to pick up & play on the go, while also promoting ambitious exploration while in a more structured area.
Like Metroid Prime, Metroid Fusion was the recipient of universal acclaim & praise by both critics and players. This time, magazine Game Informer bestowed the perfect score in their review, with multiple other outlets also giving the game very high scores. Some critics were less impressed with Metroid Fusion, particularly GameSpy who said that the game felt very bland and wasn’t doing anything new with the franchise, calling it highly derivative of Super Metroid. Multiple outlets called it the “Handheld Game of the Year” or “GBA Game of the Year”, including the prestigious DICE Awards. Like Metroid Prime, this game is most easily available on the Wii U while the eShop is still open, however many are hoping we see GBA games make it to the Switch online service, though there’s currently no plans to do so (as far as I know).
Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion reignited players passion for Samus, making the bounty hunter one of the most recognizable faces in video games for at least a decade. A few misfires in the 2010’s put Metroid on ice for a bit, but very well received installments on the 3DS and Switch have kept Samus on our minds and, with the pending release of Metroid Prime 4, I’m sure we’ll be seeing her on our Nintendo consoles for years to come.
Spider-Man and the X-Men in Arcade’s Revenge (SNES) – Released Nov. 1992: Wiki Link
Notable Film Release: Bram Stoker’s Dracula – Starring Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, and Keanu Reeves
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: Ice Cube – The Predator
*Click here to listen to album*
When you think of Spider-Man and the X-Men, who is the most well know villain that comes to mind? Magneto, Green Goblin, Mr. Sinister, Dr. Octopus? Yes, yes, those are all great choices and would have made for much better villains than the one Acclaim and Software Creations picked, Arcade. Oh, you don’t know who Arcade is, well let’s see. Hmm, he’s an evil genius who works as a hitman who traps his targets in a funhouse of sorts called Murder World. Here, Arcade uses elaborate machines he’s created to trap, frustrate and then kill his targets.
I mean, I guess I can see how using Arcade would be an interesting prospect for a game developer, as Murder World can allow them to use whatever outlandish ideas they can come up with, while also likely reusing pre-existing assets in their development kits. From a player perspective, though, WTF? Arcade’s Revenge is a fairly typical late 80’s/early 90’s side scrolling platformer. It doesn’t do anything new, at all, just repeats things you’ve seen in dozens of games before it. Players start the game as Spider-Man who has noticed that multiple members of the X-Men have gone missing. After seeing Gambit get sucked up in a giant tube from a garbage truck, Spider-Man follows it to a warehouse and learns that Arcade is up to his old tricks again, the bastard.
Players start the game as Spider-Man, deactivating security cameras in a set pattern. From there, Spider-Man is caught by Arcade and players must then take control of four X-Men characters, Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine, and Gambit, beating two levels with each of these characters before they are able to control Spider-Man again as he battles Arcade in a final showdown. That description might sound interesting but I assure you, this game is dog shit, and that’s actually an insult to dog shit. Arcade’s Revenge might be one of the worst Super Nintendo games ever made, and that’s not an exaggeration.
There’s not a ton of information out there about the development of this game, but in an interview with Software Creations Richard Kay in issue 122 of Retro Gamer magazine, he notes that the development of Arcade’s Revenge cost his company the Mortal Kombat license. Kay says that during development, things started to go horribly wrong with the game. It got so bad that publisher Acclaim threatened legal action against Software Creations, causing the company to pull developers from other games in order to finish Arcade’s Revenge. During development, Kay took a trip to Portugal with his wife and children, when he got a fax from Acclaim demanding that he return to work and oversee production of the game. He refused, later learning that his unwillingness to cooperate meant that Acclaim was giving the Mortal Kombat license to another developer. Kay noted that after he had left Software Creations, he attended E3 and was told by an Acclaim executive that he lost out on nearly $40 million in royalty payments due to his stubbornness. Capitalism, baby.
As you might have guessed, critics HATED this game, citing piss-poor controls and a lack of save states or passwords, meaning that players had to get through the tedious maze level with the security cameras every single time they started the game. There was one critic in 1994 who praised the game, calling it a delightful treat for comic book fans, with beautiful graphics and stellar sound; LOL. Arcade’s Revenge is long, long forgotten and for good reason, it fucking sucks. Don’t play this game, or do, I don’t care what you do, and it doesn’t seem like anyone who made this game cared either.
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